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This means I am about to die. Or probably that I’m already dead.

Last week I wrote at length about how bad I was at wasting time by reading. I think it’s often most difficult to be a geek due to the large amount of distractions that are catered almost directly to our interests. A good example of this would be to just take a look at the Wikipedia page on the topic of Jedis. That’s the official Wikipedia page. That’s not a fan page or something. If I was so inclined I’m pretty sure I could spend the rest of the day just reading about Jedis. That’s not necessarily true of say, Dawson’s Creek. Anyways, I digress. Instead of sitting down and working on the site one of the biggest lures for my attention is of course, video games.

In some degree or another every geek has set out to do something productive and wound up wiling away their time playing video games. There’s something incredibly alluring about not being a passive participant in your entertainment. In fact, I know a certain member of a local punk rock band who recently got rid of his PS3 for next to nothing just because he made the decision to be more creative instead of killing bad guys by the hundreds or badly beating everybody at NBA Jam.  That’s probably not a bad idea. Not for me though, I just bought a PS4 and I already own a PS Vita (to say nothing of the Wii and PS3 that are still hooked up, or the Dreamcast and PS2 that are packed up in the closet, or the 2 PSPs that are lying around, and the Gameboy Advance in that drawer over there).

“Yeah, this podcast needs editing, but I am just going to play a little _________ for a bit.”

Same as before, what game should I play?

1) Alien: Isolation (PS4). This game is great you guys. Seriously, honestly unlike any first person shooter you’ve ever played. It takes a lot of the stealth and survival elements of games like Last of Us (and pretty much completely copies the crafting mechanics) and throws you into one of the most terrifying scenarios ever. As far as staples of movie bad guys go, the Xenomorph (the Alien in “Alien”) ranks way the fuck up there. I fondly remember watching Alien and Aliens as a kid and being incredibly scared of that alien even though I knew on some level that it was no threat to me because clearly, I was not in space. Being trapped in a space station with one of theses badasses (to say nothing of creepy androids running around under the command of an obviously evil AI) and knowing that it can and will instantly kill you with one misstep is one of the more psychologically intense gameplay experiences ever. Playing this game with the lights off and the sound turned up (or better yet with some high quality headphones on) ranks up there with the best on-screen horror experiences I’ve ever had. However, it’s a bit of an investment for sure and sometimes I only have a little bit of time so I will probably end up playing something a little lighter instead.

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I probably shouldn’t be playing with only one hand.

2) Tearaway (PS Vita). This is pretty much the complete opposite end of the thematic spectrum compared to Isolation. Instead of being a terrified employee of the company stranded on an abandoned space station being hunted by the universe’s perfect killing machine, you are a little papercraft envelope guy running around in a world made out of construction paper with no other clear purpose than to “have an adventure.” I will also admit that this game is light on what you would call “challenging gameplay.”  However, what it has in spades is delightful innovative play mechanics using the full spectrum of the PS Vita’s many little bells and whistles. When your main character guy takes a picture using his camera, you move the Vita around in front of you to line up the shot. The front-facing camera often films you and puts your own face in the sun of this strange little world. The back touch pad is used all the time to manipulate various parts of the level and the touch-screen is used to manipulate other parts. Yes, the game is a little on the childish side (think Little Big Planet) but honestly it makes me wonder what sort of cool stuff developers might be able to come up with for the Vita if the console was just a little more viable. I heard somewhere that we were witnessing the death of the handheld gaming system because we all had handheld gaming devices in our phones right now. That’s ridiculous! However, I have spent way too much time on my phone instead of playing other games. Recently?

You spin left, you spin right. THAT'S THE GAME.

You spin left, you spin right. THAT’S THE GAME.

3) Duet (Android and iOS). This is embarrassing. I sat down to play a well-crafted, immersive and unique gaming experience and I ended up playing on my phone. Now, don’t get me wrong, Duet is a great little phone game and it’s free (although I found myself immediately shilling for a few extra levels and an ad-free gaming experience). It’s reminiscent of old-school game design where there’s really only a single play mechanic and an entire game making variations on that game design. In this case you control two little dots (a red one and a blue one) that can spin either in a clockwise or a counter-clockwise circle. Using only that one type of movement you need to navigate the little dots around falling squares and rectangles. It sounds simple, then you play it and it seems impossible. Then you start to understand what you’re doing and by then you’re already addicted. I’ve beaten all the available levels and I’m ranked in the top 1% in the Endless variants of the game and I still log in every day to do the daily challenges. I’m pretty sure if I put as much time into Alien: Isolation as I have this fun little phone game I would have already beaten it a few times.

Man, I think I am going to load up Alien: Isolation right now and try to navigate the medbay without getting ripped to pieces. And by that I mean play on my phone.

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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